An End to Major Vaccine Exemption in California?

Lawmakers hope to eliminate 'personal belief' vaccine exemptions
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2015 9:01 AM CST
An End to Major Vaccine Exemption in California?
In this Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, photo, a single-dose of the measles-mumps-rubella virus vaccine live, or MMR vaccine is ready at the practice of Dr. Charles Goodman in Northridge, Calif.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

California is at the epicenter of the measles outbreak, which has two state lawmakers hoping to end a major vaccination exemption. As the number of measles cases in the state climbs to 99—with cases in 19 other states and in Mexico—State Sen. Ben Allen and fellow Democrat Richard Pan, who is also a pediatrician, say they'll introduce legislation that would bar parents from choosing to opt out of vaccinations based on personal beliefs; doing so is currently prohibited in 32 states. "The high number of unvaccinated students is jeopardizing public health not only in schools but in the broader community," Allen says, per Reuters. About one in 40 kids in California went unvaccinated in 2014 due to parental beliefs, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

There are two types of exemptions available in the state: "personal belief" and "religious"; most parents cite the former. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have also asked health officials to consider eliminating the latter. Even Gov. Jerry Brown, who, like Chris Christie, has advocated for parental choice, says he's open to change and "believes that vaccinations are profoundly important," a spokesperson says. Meanwhile, a Los Angeles County health official expressed optimism about the outbreak, given that just four cases have been reported in the county in the last two weeks. "We're getting to a number of cases that’s manageable, and I'm hopeful that within weeks or a couple of months we will be able to turn the corner on this particular outbreak," he said. (More California stories.)

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